Stephen Hawking's Ph.D. Thesis Is Now Available Online, and It's Crashing Cambridge's Servers

Evert Elzinga, Stringer, Getty Images
Evert Elzinga, Stringer, Getty Images / Evert Elzinga, Stringer, Getty Images

It's been more than 50 years since a 24-year-old Ph.D. student named Stephen Hawking wrote his thesis on the nature of an expanding universe. Now, in honor of Open Access Week, Mashable reports that Cambridge University has made the paper freely available to the public online for the first time. Hawking said in a statement, "Anyone, anywhere in the world should have free, unhindered access to not just my research, but to the research of every great and enquiring mind across the spectrum of human understanding." There's just one problem: The number of people flooding Cambridge's servers to read his work is crashing the site.

Within 24 hours of going live, Properties of Expanding Universes was downloaded about 60,000 times. The number of visitors merely viewing the repository page that linked to the thesis reached nearly 410,000 in that same amount of time. The server is accustomed to handling documents that receive 100 views a month, and as a result the open access site "is performing slower than usual and may at times be temporarily unavailable" a representative of the university told Mashable.

Properties of Expanding Universes marks one of Hawking's earliest attempts in his lifelong mission to form a "complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is, and why it exists at all." It contains four chapters that examine the "implications and consequences of the expansion of the universe" and touches on everything from gravitational radiation to singularities.

Users who successfully make it onto Cambridge's site will have the option to download compressed versions of the paper or a high-resolution 72 megabyte file. Based on the current state of the school’s server, you may have time to read the rest of Hawking's writings on the properties of the universe while you wait.

[h/t Mashable]